CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Is associative voluntary service an indicator of a change in social behaviour patterns? Drawing its roots from philanthropy, mutual aid and militancy, it presents today very diversified facets and in fact mobilizes social groups which set out with a rang of varied motivations. It expresses a more specific and transitory relationship with associations; and it is expressed by an increasing division of labour between functions of administration, animation and execution. Its frontiers with wage-earning thus tend to become blurred, weakening the political engagement. Many associations seek to manage it as a resource, and even to remunerate it since the voluntary workers claim some counterpart to their activity. The extended status of voluntary help along with remuneration of the association managers, aim both to meet these expectations.
On the other hand, the public authorities such as the associations for popular education also stress the socio-political role of what is seen as an expression of, and a mean for revitalizing, democracy. These different apprehensions about associative engagement a do away with the notion of voluntary help which is required to answer a double society role: as a work contribution and as a training in citizenship.

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